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Horizon second-grader Kylie Zou plays perfect game in chess championship

MADISON – Kylie Zou, a second-grader at Horizon Elementary School, may be young, but her mastery of chess shows skills far beyond her age. Scoring a perfect game, Kylie claimed the honor of Primary Individual Champion in the 2021 State Scholastic Chess Championship.

“What makes Kylie’s victory unique is that she won with a perfect score of five points, winning every game that she played,” Ranae Bartlett said. Bartlett is Executive Director of Madison City Chess League or MCCL. “Kylie was the clear winner, and there were no ties for first place.”

In that same championship, Kylie’s sister, Alice Zou, earned third place in contest with a score of four points. Alice is a kindergartner at Horizon. “These two girls have a bright future,” Bartlett said.

“One of the things I would credit for this success in our K-3 age group of kids is the MCCL All Star Chess Club program. Second- and third-graders are nominated by their chess coaches from every elementary school in Madison,” Bartlett said.

Started in 2015, the MCCL All Star Chess Club “is paying huge dividends for our students,” Bartlett said. “This year with the restrictions from the pandemic, we did not want to miss a beat, so we set up a virtual All Star Chess Club.”

Instructors for the All Star Club are Victor Lundy and Constance Wang, members of Bob Jones High School Chess Team. Bartlett supervises online practices. “This (setup) has been a great opportunity for our high school players to volunteer and share their skills with our youngest players,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett noted that Madison has compiled quite a history of winning stats in Kylie’s section of the State Scholastic Chess Championship:

* 2021 — Kylie Zou, Horizon

* 2020 — Canceled due to COVID-19

* 2019 — Laya Gowder, Heritage Elementary School

* 2018 — Aadi Saxena, Heritage

* 2017 — Xavier Bruni, Rainbow Elementary School

* 2016 — Geon Park, Rainbow

* 2010 — Chen Zou

* 2007 — Elora Holland

* 2004 and 2005 — Dennis Dergunov

Kylie’s tenacity and skill is apparent from her resume of tournament honors. Kylie won second place in the K-2 Section in the 2021 Winter Knights Scholastic Chess Tournament playing on the ChessKid.com platform on Jan. 16.

Kylie won second-place honors for the Non-Rated K-3 section of the 2019 Summer Knights Scholastic Chess Tournament. She nabbed first place among players in the Rated K-3 section of the premiere MCCL Halloween Chess Tournament in 2020.

In the 2020 Madison City Schools Fall Scholars Tournament, Kylie ranked in fourth place in the Under 1000 section. For two years, she earned individual awards in the K-3 Section in the All-Girls State Chess Championship and Queen’s Quest Scholastic Chess Tournament.

Kylie and Alice’s parents are Yang Zou, an optical scientist, and Dan Ke, who works as an electrical engineer.

For more information, visit madisonchess.com.

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